“Only the impossible is worth doing.” ~ Akong Rinpoche
I’m not going to say everything is possible, because as the late John Candy said, it is not possible to nail Jell-O to a tree. But so, so many things are possible…so many more than we can ever imagine.
And miracles do happen. But, they require our cooperation. The gods will move mountains as long as we bring shovels and dig.
Did I tell you the story of the drowning man? Oh well, you probably know it but I’ll tell it again. So…a man was drowning and he prayed to the gods for help. A small boat showed up and the fisherman inside it reached out to pull the drowning man onto the boat. The man refused. “No, the gods will save me” he insisted. A bit later, a larger boat showed up and of course the people on it tried to rescue him too. Once again, he refused. “No, no, no, the gods will save me”. Finally, a huge yacht showed up. Same story. The man refused any help because he had faith the gods would save him.
Needless to say, he drowned, went to heaven, and once there, he was mighty furious. He asked to see the gods. “I had faith in you, I prayed for you to save me, and you let me drown!?!?” he yelled. The gods of course rolled their eyes. “You stupid man, we sent you three boats, one larger than then next! What else did you expect?!”
I love that story. Heard it ever since I was little, and always think of it when I’m facing what ‘on paper’ looks like an impossible situation. And ‘on paper’ it is. I’ve been in that spot enough times to know what “no way this can possibly ever work or happen” looks like.
I remember one week in summer, many years ago, when all that could have possibly gone wrong did. I was still a kid, and my mother and I, refugees at the time, faced a dead-end. No money, no visas, every door closed. Still, we had applied and went to the interviews against all odds, even though ‘on paper’, anyone with a ‘realistic’ eye would have seen that all efforts failed, nothing was going to work out, and would have given up.
That one week, we had truly run out of time and options. With very heavy hearts, we decided to still go to the church in Vienna where Napoleon married his Josephine, sit through the mass in Latin and German, and listen to the classical music concert afterwards.
As always, I was clutching the miniature icon of Mary and baby Jesus, and sprinkled it for the millionth time with holy water in the hope of somehow increasing its magical powers. My requests to the statues in the church seemed impossible even to me, but I still asked, with a child’s words, for help. In this case, visas. And I added that I really also wanted, at some point in the future, to live in a house with a pool and have a horse. The gods must have surely smiled at that one.
And here I am, writing this, decades later, sitting in a house, with a pool. I don’t have a horse (not yet) but enough rescued animals to make up for one. Needless to say, we got the visas even though this was, I assure you, impossible.
How did it happen? I think the gods did help. But I suspect they were able to help because we applied everywhere we could, against all odds…because we did not believe what ‘on paper’ looked impossible and gave up…because we chose to recognize the possibility that there is another kind of math in life that is far more accurate.
My point is this…we end up in situations where we’re literally or metaphorically drowning, and ‘on paper’, there’s no way out. So we give up because we conclude it’s impossible. On top of that, very often, because we fixate on what we believe a solution must look like, we dismiss everything else, refusing to recognize solutions that do exist.
Had my mother waited or expected to secure all that was needed to begin and support a life in the US, I would not be here writing this. Ideally yes, before doing anything, she would have looked for some serious reassurance we’d get visas, had set up a place to live, had lined up some job options, and of course had money saved up.
But we didn’t have any of these things. We had two suitcases and a dream. ‘On paper’ it looked impossible. Yet here I am, about to celebrate 4th of July in a house with a pool. And no, it didn’t all happen at once. But like this wonderful quote I have pinned to my wall always reminds me, “it isn’t necessary to know everything in order to begin, or resolve everything in order to advance.”
What is necessary is that we participate in creating our miracles, recognize and allow the possible. If it seems we’re drowning (or actually are), we have to look around with an open mind and recognize opportunities, no matter how small at first, or how improbable they might seem when compared to our ideal vision of what solutions and miracles should look like.